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Utah Food Banks Adapt To Increasing Food Insecurity

As the pandemic drags on, many families continue to face food insecurity.

“It's going to take months and months for some families to recover. So you know, as an organization who's helping us families, we need to be sure that we can be sustainable, and be sure that we have products and services to help them over the course of the next year-year and a half,” said Ginette Bott, President and CEO of Utah Food Bank.

The number of individuals that don’t know where their next meal is coming from has grown since the pandemic began.

“Before the pandemic, we were at about 380,000 that we knew were there throughout the state that needed help, but then all of a sudden, that number just jumped by another 165,000. And then unfortunately, you know, many of those numbers are kids,” Bott said.

The pandemic has brought other challenges to the food bank system. Seasonal food drives that normally happen at schools and workplaces have either adapted or disappeared as more aspects of life go online. Volunteer groups are restricted in number and have to meet many more sanitation requirements. But Bott said any way people can give makes a difference.

“That money then goes through every county in the state. We fundraise the way we do so we can deliver this food to those agencies free of charge, and then it's given out to the recipient free of charge as well. But we know we can't do it without the help of everyone,” Bott said.

She said hunger in Utah is a complex issue.

“It's very silent. But it really impacts people in a lot of different ways from a health perspective, from the ability to concentrate from, you know, kids with their ability to grow and learn in school. So I would just encourage anyone out there whose family is really struggling with hunger issues to not let that go, to reach out, and to get some help.”

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